What it takes to dress an NBA star
Forget the fadeaway shots and buzzer beaters: if you follow fashion, NBA point-scorers are even more fun to watch off the court as fashion’s new supermodels, sporting the season’s coolest suits, sneakers, hoodies and jackets as they strut into locker rooms or document their daily business on Instagram.
With their towering frames and tight physiques, these guys are some of fashion’s biggest influencers, and they know it, taking their seats on fashion-show front rows and modeling for the pages of Vogue. And the fashion endorsements keep coming, from Dwyane Wade’s lifetime contract with Chinese fashion company Li-Ning to Kevin Love’s pieces for Banana Republic.
As the players packed their suitcases to head to Charlotte this week for the NBA All-Star game, we assembled a panel of six top Carolinas fashion experts to pick an All-Star Best-Dressed Team: Read our panel’s comments here; the vote totals are at bottom.
Charlotte-based stylist with clients including NFL and NASCAR athletes
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) - What’s great about Dwyane is he has a sophisticated-gentleman, classic style that is mindful of tailoring and detail. He wears luxury brands well which is why you always see him front row at fashion shows. He gets it.
James Harden (Houston Rockets) - He’s my favorite! His stylist and I actually go back and forth on wardrobe pulls for each other’s clients from certain brands; if she’s looking for an option for him I’ve probably got it and vice versa. James has a playful, power-watt, colorful style that compliments his big personality and confidence to pull off anything, from a lime green Versace suit to Dries Van Noten brights.
Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors) - Steph has a quiet style that is basically classic, everyday pieces with a twist of street mixed in. He has a uniform of muted neutrals and slim fits that work great for him. He may not be buying the most luxurious pieces but he sticks to a silhouette that elevates anything he wears.
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) - LeBron loves to experiment, as we have seen with his infamous Thom Browne made-to-measure short suit. He’s not afraid to try new things and go out of his comfort zone.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) - He has a super modern, androgynous street style and it works so well for him. He can literally wear anything! He isn’t afraid of mixing patterns or styles and it’s so refreshing to see a guy mix things up and have fun doing it.
Professor at Johnson C. Smith University who teaches a course on sneaker culture.
Chris Paul (Houston Rockets) - CP3 dresses for any occasion and does so with ease. It is noteworthy that he is one of the only members of his family to not attend an HBCU. I appreciate the homage to his HBCU-educated family, and these sentinels of higher learning displayed via his game night attire.
Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets) - Kemba is the star of the Hornets (phone) app, which has a gallery devoted to the team in street clothes. Yes, he is an all-star-caliber point guard. Yet, it is not his court play that makes him a central figure of the technology; it is his attire. Kemba’s look is not left field; he looks as if fashion comes as natural to him as dribbling. If the Hornets played more nationally televised games, he would definitely be recognized as one of the league’s most fashionable players.
JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers) - When you are 7 feet tall and 251 lbs., most garments will compliment your slim frame. McGee’s red carpet looks are bold, but not outrageous. When it’s travel day, he is leisure par excellence. Any player who can flawlessly transition between Gucci and New Jersey Sets (NJS) is first team all-fashion.
Nick Young (Los Angeles Lakers) - Swaggy P is an authentic sneaker head’s paragon of on-court fashion. Yes, he is a natty dresser off the clock. In the same “fashion,” he represents on the hardwood. For instance, a sneaker purist recognizes the Adidas Pro Model 2G as one of the best performance sneakers of all time. The player-exclusive colorways Nick Young dons are très magnifique.
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) - Flash goes motoring in a size 17 Fabrice Tardieu minimal look on date night, and opts for his own Way of Wade (WOW) signature line with Chinese sneaker giant Li-Ning during competition. An author, designer and athlete of Wade’s caliber dictates fashion trends that others subscribe. Consequently, admirers embrace his fashion-forward selections.
LeBron James - When you are the face of the NBA, you are also the face of NBA fashion; the two entities go hand in hand. LeBron goes from Nike Sportswear to Thom Browne suits accessorized by Charlotte-based Gre-Dee Arts lapel pins in the blink of an eye. Considering his position as Nike’s apex endorser, LBJ sent clandestine messages via his sneakers, concerning his free agent destinations. In 2010, he donned a Miami Heat colorway of the Nike Air Penny II one day before “The Announcement.” Last summer, during the NBA playoffs, he wore a tonal — fireproof — purple colorway of his first signature, the Nike Zoom Generation, weeks before becoming a Laker. Simply stated, LeBron James is to NBA fashion as a nose is to a face. He is at the forefront.
Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers) - You know you are on the right fashion path when your teammates dedicate countless social media posts to your pre- and post-game attire. At 23 years old, Kuzma is ahead of schedule regarding making a name for himself in NBA fashion. He is the first player to sign a partnership with sneaker re-seller GOAT. This unprecedented cooperative cements Kuzma’s place among the NBA’s fashion elite..
P.J. Tucker (Houston Rockets) - What P.J. Tucker may lack in playing ability, he overcompensates for with such gaudy sneaker purchases. As a direct result, sneaker culture carpetbaggers recognize him as the On-Court Sneaker champion. He is deserving of such recognition. It is not uncommon to see Tucker compete in a deadstock — decade old — sneaker. He is not losing his sneaker championship any time soon. He’s the NBA’s best-dressed at tipoff.
Stephen Curry - Chef Curry dresses as if he is on his way to a GQ shoot daily. ‘Nuff said.
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Watch Kevin Love as he enters an NBA arena. I dare you to spot a player who layers clothing with Love’s precision. He sports a classic look that looks more Hollywood than it does Cleveland. Given his Santa Monica origin, it is easy to see the Tinseltown influence.
A fashion-loving shooting guard for the Charlotte Hornets.
Dwayne Bacon (Charlotte Hornets) - Bake is different. He’s different. He wears his own style, he doesn’t care about what anybody says.
Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets) - Kemba, he’s from New York, so they know how to dress any way. He’s always got something good on; it doesn’t matter what he’s got on, he’s going to look good. He can pull anything off.
De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings) - Fox. He’s from down South. I’m from down South. He dresses like – you can tell he’s from the South – so I like that.
Russell Westbrook - He is on another level. He really just wears anything. Russ wears anything and I like that, too. He can wear ANYTHING.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Los Angeles Clippers) - Shai, he dresses like he’s in cold weather. I think I dress kind of like Shai, so I like his style.
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) - D Book is from down South too, so he wears a lot of stuff that shows he’s from down South. So I like that.
Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder) - Paul George dresses like my brother, so I mean, that’s pretty decent.
James Harden (Houston Rockets) - He’s really – he just... He’s totally different. He’s like, I don’t even know who he dresses like. Himself. I really can’t, it’s just him. Nobody in the league dresses like him.
Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons) - Blake Griffin is just comfortable all the time. Looks good, but comfortable.
Tony Parker (Charlotte Hornets) - TP is just classic.
Designer of menswear and home furnishings who designed the first Charlotte Hornets uniform when the team debuted in 1988.
Kelly Oubre (Phoenix Suns) - Kool Kelly sure is INTO it! He has become the man to watch to see what’s trending.
P.J. Tucker and James Harden - Both of these Gentlemen ooze STYLE! They both have FUN getting dressed (everyone should!), and are so comfortable in everything, one of the secrets of true style!
Kevin Love - Kevin is a true Gentleman of Style, his clothes are perfectly cut so well that he doesn’t even look like the Giant he is on and off the court.
LeBron James - King James rules a regal fashion path that transcends dress up and dress down. His dramatic sense of fashion matches his prowess on the court!
Steph Curry - Steph gets his style honestly, both his wonderful Dad and his beautiful Mom taught their offspring well! Steph’s style is as smooth as his shots, so comfortable that he makes it look easy!
Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors) - From an impeccable suit on the cover of GQ to super cool jeans and tees, Kevin is the Man for All Seasons, a natural Champion.
Kemba Walker - Talk about a “great shot” of looking great and “well guarded” at the same time: This man is as cool as they get.
Tony Parker - The always-best-dressed Mr. Parker has been featured in so many fashion features and magazine covers that there are fans who think of him as a fashion model who is also a great basketball player!
Marvin Williams (Charlotte Hornets) - I have to believe that Marvin is as stylish off the courts as he is on! (He’s the only current player who has worn both my Hornets teal and purple as well as my Tar Heel Argyles!)
Charlotte-based stylist with firm AZSN Studio, which specializes in dressing male pro athletes.
Jimmy Butler (Philadelphia 76ers) - He’s open-minded while maintaining his own sense of style. Fav look would be the “meditate” Elder Statesman sweater.
Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) - Would call him the Godfather of style. PERIOD. His stylist Calyann has invented his look MANY MANY years ago and, because of her, Dwyane has been able to capitalize on the fashion market and become a brand. He has countless partnerships with fashion houses.
LeBron James - He has used his platform to unite people in relevant causes through the use of fashion, the Thom Browne suiting for example.
Chris Paul (Houston Rockets) - His stylist, Courtney Mays, has truly created an image. With CP3 you know what you’re getting — clean, crisp, consistent.
Mike Conley Jr (Memphis Grizzlies) - His stylist, Brandon Williams, is super-creative, so Mike plays with a lot of fun streetwear mixed into high-end custom clothing and high-end designers, and because of his size everything looks amazing on him.
Kevin Love - Very similar aesthetic as Chris Paul, with the simplicity — however, Kevin has taken advantage of his platform by securing a deal with Banana Republic. HUGE WIN!!!
Kelly Oubre Jr. - Love that Kelly is different. Beats to his own drum, and also got himself a deal with Converse (they don’t make basketball shoes) on the court.
Nick Young (Denver Nuggets) - Original, fun, relevant. He’s from LA so he has a very distinct point of view.
James Harden - His stylist, Kesha McLeod, really has focused on exposing James to the less notable NBA designers such as Dries Van Noten, and he’s looked incredible. Very interesting and different.
Zach Collins (Portland Trailblazers) - Clearly biased (we are his stylists), however, at 6 feet 10 inches, Zach this past year has started to make an impression. Youthful, fun but simple. We mixed high and low pieces to start to shape his style uniform. Someone to watch!
Styling sales manager for Nordstrom at SouthPark Mall.
Dwight Howard (Atlanta Hawks) - This man embraces the South’s love of color and patterns.
LeBron James - It’s all about the jacket.
Chris Paul - He knows how to wear the three-piece suit.
Carmelo Anthony - Love that he embraces the traditional side of fashion.
Stephen Curry - He loves color, but balances well when he wears neutrals.
James Harden - Very clean-cut looks, topped off with a great shoe.
Kevin Durant - This man likes to catch attention with a little flash, but never over the top.
Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers) - He is a man who loves style and that monochrome suit in easy colors.
J.R. Smith (Cleveland Cavaliers) - He runs a close second to LeBron James and the statement jacket.
Jordan Clarkson (Los Angeles Lakers) - One of the youngest in the NBA, he - like most players his age - loves recognizable labels.
Starting five-plus-one on the All-Star Fashion Team:
LeBron James (5); a two-way tie with four votes each for Steph Curry and James Harden; and a two-way tie with three votes each for Kevin Love, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.